Benedict's Soapbox

The Magic of Reality for iPad

The Magic of Reality for iPad is now available from the App Store. It’s fantastic - you should buy it. I’m very pleased to say that I was involved in making the app. The two developers on the project were myself and Antoine Pastor. Antoine developed the Cocos2d interactions, and I developed the book infra structure.

The app does justice to Richards Dawkins’ words and Dave McKean’s illustrations and also adds new ideas as to what a digital a book is and what they can be in the future.

By the time I came on board the guys at Somethin’ Else had worked out a lot of the details involved in translating the paper book into an app. Due to the flexibility of the development process there was always scope to explore new ideas. For my part the creative input I’m most proud of is the parallaxing. My initial though was that parallaxing would bring a sense of dynamism to the otherwise static text. In practice parallaxing solved a different problem. The space of an iPad screen is fairly pokey when compare to a book. Parallaxing allowed the apps pages to feel much larger than the screen.

The other area that I’m particularly proud of is the book navigation. I’ve looked at lots of digital books and magazine and I’ve been consistently underwhelmed. The most common problems are an excess of UI chrome and proliferation of lacklustre navigation mechanisms. Our navigation mechanism doesn’t distract from the content, is holistic and enjoyable to use.

An iPad book is first and foremost a book. Typography and layout are an at the heart of beautiful books, but the typography in digital media is generally substandard. The Magic of Reality, however, has excellent typography and layout. This achievement was primarily the work of Emily Homer. In the early stages of development it became clear that the layout engine provided scope for many creative possibilities. Providing creative potential is great, but there’s a danger that it can lead to a lack of cohesion. Emily figured out creative constraints that showcased the illustrations, allowed the parallaxing to enhance the content, and also provide consistency and cohesion.

It was great working with the guys at Somethin’ Else. The creative integrity of the product is central to their development process. This approach works extremely well and ensures that quality doesn’t slip when the pressure picks up. I’m very proud of what we created.

The iPad has huge potential for books, magazines and newspapers and I’d certainly like to work on other publishing projects. If you’d like me to work on your app then get in touch.